In the modern era, the home cinema experience has evolved into a technologically advanced and immersive escape within the confines of one's residence. A cutting-edge 4K or even 8K projector, seamlessly integrated with smart home automation systems, effortlessly projects breathtakingly sharp and vibrant visuals onto a large, high-quality screen. Surround sound systems, equipped with the latest audio technologies, ensure that viewers are enveloped in a three-dimensional audio environment, capturing every nuance of a film's soundtrack.
Comfort is key in the contemporary home cinema, with sleek and luxurious seating arrangements featuring built-in amenities like cup holders and even massage functions. Streaming services and digital media libraries provide an extensive array of content, granting enthusiasts the freedom to curate their cinematic journey with ease. The modern home cinema is not merely a room with a screen; it is a technological marvel, a personal theater that brings the magic of the silver screen into the heart of one's home.
Movies, sports, and even video games are brought to life with a custom home theatre. Imagine a dedicated room in your home, well equipped with a high-resolution 4K UHD projector, a CinemaScope screen, heart-pounding Dolby Atmos 9.1.6 surround sound speakers, plush leather seating, and just the proper lighting to set the mood. That room will become your entertainment oasis.
Whether you're building a new home and can work with our team to design the ultimate theatre from the ground up, or you have an existing home, and a room that you see has the potential to get the ultimate makeover into that one-of-a-kind home theatre, our team is the premier choice to create the home theatre of your dreams.
Our experience in the industry speaks for itself, we have continuously won international awards for technical excellence, and design for our home cinema builds. In 2021 we were awarded a design et al. award for Best Home Cinema Internationally. In. the same year, we also won a CePro award for Best Home Cinema and were awarded the status of Advanced member by CEDIA.
Visit our gallery for examples of home theatres we've installed.
WHAT IS A HOME CINEMA?
The basic idea of a home cinema is to replicate the cinematic experience one would get at a commercial cinema. There are specific details that create this experience, such as the furniture, recliners, concession stand, lighting, screen, and overall look and feel.
The advantage of a home cinema is that one has more creative freedom to incorporate personal tastes and likes. For example, red cinema recliners would be frowned upon in a commercial cinema since they reflect light, something you don't want in a cinema. But it's possible in a home cinema since most seats would be occupied anyway, and there are not enough seats to make a real difference in the viewing experience.
Some prefer an informal seating arrangement as opposed to cinema recliners; this allows for a more casual everyday set up for those who choose to use their cinema not only for their favorite movies but the evening soapies too!
We've even had a client ask for a king-size bed in the cinema; although this could be frowned upon by some acoustically, it was all about the client's family time and comfort. The customization options are almost endless!
The one thing you don't want in a home cinema is all the technical struggles of putting on your favorite movie. Traditionally you would have to set the lighting, set the amplifier and projector to the correct aspect ratio, and then set the volume. It's now all much easier with our one-button automation solutions. This means all you must do is press one button on your remote to set everything perfectly.
Finally, you need the whole audio experience! This is the challenging part. It's far more complex than one would think. There is a precise science behind the audio setup, something we've done for many years and won many awards.
WHAT DOES A HOME CINEMA COST?
This is something we get asked a lot! Unfortunately, there's no clear answer until a few fundamental questions have been answered.
Every cinema room will be unique in acoustic dynamics and size. This means no two rooms sound the same; therefore, different acoustic treatments will be needed for both rooms. The ceiling height will also play a significant factor; for example, this will determine if more than one row of seats will be possible; the more seats, the more expensive the room.
There are dozens of factors that can determine or influence the price of a home cinema. Unfortunately, there is no quick answer here.
Another important factor is that one doesn't build a home cinema often, therefore prices are relatively unknown in the public domain. So it's very difficult for a client to set up a budget or even have an idea of what a home cinema would cost. The audio and video equipment used in a home cinema is exceptionally specialized, it's definitely not "off-the-shelf" options. These are professional-grade options that naturally will come at a premium.
Here are a few examples of what we look at when setting up a budget for a home cinema:
- The size of the room
- The height of the ceiling
- The construction of the room
- Are there windows/doors in the room
- The finish of the floor
- Is there HVAC in the room?
- The quality and abundance of electrical supply in the room
Apart from those examples, there are many aspects that will affect the home cinema build itself such as:
- Traditional cinema seating or casual seating
- Electric recliners or manual recliners.
- Recliners with USB and drink cooling / heating options
- The complexity of the ceiling finish such as bulkheads with star lights
- The complexity of the accent lighting
- The quality of the finishes used on the acoustic treatment
- The level of acoustic treatment required
- The amount of gear required
- The size of the screen and matching projector
- and other aspects
The quickest way to determine a budget for your home cinema is to analyze the plans of the room, and have a meeting to discuss the client's needs and requirements. Once this is established, we then prepare a few suitable pricing options for approval.
CAN I CONVERT AN EXISTING ROOM INTO A HOME CINEMA?
Absolutely! We've seen many people go this route, especially during the days of COVID when traditional movie theatres were closed.
Many people have a spare room or lounge with little use. With a little ingenuity and budget, we've successfully converted these into home cinemas.
A rectangular room is better than a square room. We would recommend at least a 5x4m room but ideally, you would want something like 6x4m or larger.
WILL MY HOME CINEMA BE SOUNDPROOF?
There has always been some confusion between soundproof and acoustic treatment. Soundproof refers to a room or space where sound is either blocked from entering or leaving that space. Materials and foams are used to absorb sound. Although it is very difficult to block sound completely, some level of success will be achieved.
You don't want your home cinema to be soundproof! This would mean the audio in the cinema would be bland and dead since there would be so much material to absorb sound. What you do want, is an acoustically treated room that will favour the required calibration for a cinema. High and low frequencies react differently, their wavelengths are different too. In a home cinema, you want a balance of reflections and absorption. Too reflective means it will sound bright and uncomfortable to listen to. Too much absorption means it would sound bland with no dynamics. At the same time, one has to consider the aesthetics of the room too, therefore the room needs a clever blend of acoustic treatment disguised as decor.
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST SCREEN I CAN FIT IN MY HOME CINEMA?
There is a relationship between the distance of the most forward seat and the screen that should be adhered to. If the screen is too large for the room, one will land up looking left and right to see the whole screen. It's also not good for your vision.
Our team makes use of specialized software that will work the appropriate screen size for your room.
WILL THE PICTURE BE AS GOOD AS MY LED TV?
Probably better! However, it's not only about the projector, it's about the screen too. A good projector is nothing without a matched quality screen. A wall painted white for example does not reflect linear light as well as a projector screen. The amount of absorbed and reflected light is an exact science. Only a good quality screen can do this.
A large screen provides a more comfortable viewing experience and is also more immersive. Remember that 4k remains 4k, irrespective of the screen size. Therefore a 4m screen will give you the same resolution as say a 55" LED TV, just much larger. Nowadays there are also laser projectors with very impressive contrast ratios and lumen output.HOW MANY SPEAKERS DO I NEED?
This is where our expertise comes in! Depending on the size of the room, and how many people it will seat, we can advise on the best audio configuration for your room.
The basics for a home cinema setup are:
- Left and Right speakers - used for music, effects, and some dialogue
- Centre speaker - primarily for dialogue
- Rear speakers - used for rear effects
- Atmos speakers (overhead) - used for overhead audio effects
- Subwoofer - used to deliver the low rumbling sound effects also known as LFE
There are many Dolby configurations available and it can get quite complex and confusing to the untrained person. Our team will be on hand to advise on the best possible solution for your room and budget.WILL I HAVE "SURROUND SOUND" JUST LIKE IN A CINEMA?
Definitely! For the most part, the audio experience in a home cinema has the opportunity to be of a higher quality than a commercial cinema. The quality of the audio and visual gear used by Cinema Architects for example is of an extremely high standard. In fact, we have now won multiple international awards with our special "recipe" of components.
Our high-end cinemas for example all use Genelec active speakers. Genelec is a Finnish brand of handmade speakers and is known as the reference standard in the professional world of music. There's a very good chance your favorite song was recorded, mixed, and mastered using Genelec speakers. They are also used to mix and master some of the world's most famous movies in Dolby Digital.
Our ethos is simple, what better way to reproduce sound than using the same speakers that were used to make the movie in the first place? Genelec speakers provide clear, accurate, and powerful sound for any situation.
Image Below: David Guetta talks about his Genelec Powered studio in Ibiza. See the Youtube video HERE
WHAT DOES DOLBY 7.1.4 MEAN?
When you first look into getting a surround sound system, you will start to see numbers associated with the different setups you can purchase. What do those numbers, like 7.1.4 mean?
The first number in a surround sound system, such as the “7” in 7.1.4, is the number of main or traditional speakers in the system.
The second number in a surround sound system, like the “1” in 7.1.4, denotes the number of subwoofer-type speakers in the system.
The third number in a surround sound system is the number of height or presence speakers. These speakers are positioned above the listeners’ ear level and add a 3D effect to the sounds being heard.
WHERE DO I START?
We understand this can all be a bit daunting for first time cinema owners. So we've compiled some notes on how to start your hunt for a home cinema:
Get a feel for what you want
You know you want a home cinema, but you not quite sure of how exactly you want it to look. Our advice - Visit a showroom that has completed cinema's to get inspiration and ideas. Our showroom currently has 4 complete cinema rooms on display. Apart from the cinema rooms, we also have samples of wall textures, carpets, leather and an array of recliners on show. Therefore step one should be figuring out your preferred look and feel.
Decide on the experience you want
Not all cinema rooms are built the same, they can be hugely simplified, or filled with experiences, what do we mean by this? Well one could have a full concession stand at the entrance of the cinema, this is an experience reminiscent of a commercial cinema. Lighting can offer different experiences too. For example you could have a "horror night" lighting theme with accents of red lighting strategically placed to enhance the mood. Likewise there could be an "action night" theme and this will change the lighting to a different colour. But there could also be a "social night" theme, and besides the colour, this will add further ambient lighting. This is suitable for when the friends are over and you watching the soccer final on the big screen!
A starlight ceiling is also an experience, should that be one colour or multicoloured? What about the recliners, should they be manual or electric? Should they cool my drink and charge my phone? All these details add to the experience of a home cinema. Our home cinema specialists can advise on all these and recommend even more!
Decide how many people will use the cinema
There tends to be a natural inclination to fit as many seats as possible in a home cinema. This doesn't have to be so, remember the more seats there are, could compromise other areas of the cinema, such as the screen size. Be realistic and think how many people would use the cinema at any one time?
Time to get an expert
The above decisions can possibly be made at home over a discussion with the family. Once the soft details are decided, it's time to get technical! What speakers, what screen, what projector, what processor etc etc.
These are complex decision, and honestly speaking, the regular person does not have the knowledge or experience to make these decision, no matter how much you google!
We have the most experienced team in South Africa when it comes to home cinema design. Our team is internationally trained by HAA and CEDIA. We have the team to advise you correctly for a system that will do what you need it to do, hassle free, with relevant back up service, warranties and guarantees.
Call: 016 455 1000 and ask for a home cinema specialist
Here's an interesting article on the basics of building a home cinema